The narrative ‘The Last Library’, by A. K. Benedict is a collision between real life and fantasy where meaningful past treasures can often be forgotten and disregarded in a fast paced world. In a way it invokes thought about a current issue in North American society today, the progression of new technologies and how we have become dependent on these new technologies as a source of entertainment. Modern day culture has been immersed in a craze of technology allowing immediate access to information and entertainment.
Smart phones, tablets, social media sites, and all the vast information of the internet that is only clicks of a mouse away has caused people to forget the wonders that a library can hold. Much of Society has forgotten how to entertain itself through imagination by reading stories. The text is slightly ambiguous I feel, as though the author wants us to create our own meaningful interpretation of the story.
‘The Last Library’ is a narrative that critiques the idea of how modern day North American culture has seemed to have forgotten about the many wonders of past treasures. The story does this by focusing on the exaggerated view of a
young girl, using fiction entwined with real life problems to help us as readers to reflect on the magic places your imagination can take you when reading a book. Interpretation of the written word is shaped by the reader’s own experiences and steers each reader, ambiguously at times, towards a meaning which will differ for each reader as his or her mind interprets specific moments. The author puts forth clues in helping the reader to determine the implied reader of this text; I would consider myself to be closer to the implied reader.
The implied reader can be defined as the reader imagined by the text (Grinnell 21). I have lived in a time where libraries were the primary and often times the sole source for knowledge and entertainment, as am I part of modern society entrenched in our current time of modern technology. The Guide’s (Maggie) comment referring to the last library being “Old exhibit. It’s not interactive” (Benedict 217) makes me reflect on how libraries have become obsolete in our current technological age because they are not interactive in the way smart phones and tablets allow a person to be.
This quote demonstrates a specific feeling I can sympathize with where technology, because it is so interactive, has become the dominant source of information and entertainment. A reader’s own experiences shape the interpretation of the written word. In the story the young girl thinks to herself, “Her mind is always full of stories, and now there are more outside her” (Benedict 220).
This makes me ponder my own childhood and all the wonderful books such as Harry Potter or old favorite The Saggy Baggy Elephant and all the magical stories from childhood that are treasures I will always hold inside and have helped shape who I became. The meaning of this story can seem vague at moments as the story is more fable than real life, but it does incorporate real life issues.
We live in a fast paced world where progress dominates. Simple treasures are often passed over or forgotten for the sake of progress and money, and libraries are an endangered treasure. The Guide’s comment “It’s a rare event for the museum but they have to make way for other last things. That’s progress” (Benedict 221) when the books are to be destroyed enforces this thought of “Out with the old – in with the new”, which is the meaning I would take from this story.
This narrative “The Last Library” creates as sense of how North American culture tends to forget the past when seeking new and exciting things. The story focused on the library but also made mention of other past things such as the Dodo or Cuckoo clock; both things we now only see in a museum or archival instances as their time and place in history have passed.
“The last museum in itself” mentioned in this short story grips the imagination and conjures up wonder if one day “will anyone care about the past? ” Works Cited Benedict, A. K. The Last Library. Paraxis 2011. Rpt. in Custom Course Materials: ENGL 153. Ed. George C. Grinnell. Kelowna: U of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, 2014. 217-224. Print. Grinnell, George C. Critical Practice: Critical Approaches to Narratives English 153.